2011.03.16 A birth on the highway

Written by David Green.


I’ve been told that if I show up at the airport Wednesday night, I’ll find my wife there waiting for a ride home. I’ll be there, as long as she agrees to drive home.

Wednesday nights are traditionally my most tired. I remember falling asleep while reading stories to the kids on Wednesday nights. They would poke me to get me back on track. I’ll do the same for Colleen. In fact, I’ll pack a stick for that very purpose.

The last time I fetched her from the airport, the roads were extra slick with snow. I passed so many cars in the ditch along I-75, but at least we made it back before the Great Ice Storm began.

At that time, Colleen was just returning from a vacation in Little Rock. It wasn’t supposed to be a vacation. Our daughter, Rosanna, called about 6:30 on a Saturday morning to tell us the day had arrived. She was feeling labor pains. A baby was on its way.

Colleen bought a ticket to Little Rock and away we went. On the way to the airport, Rosie called and told us things had calmed down. In fact, she never felt a contraction the entire time Colleen was there. It was just a nice visit to Arkansas.

About two weeks later the next call came. This time it was the real thing, and there was more interesting weather.

Halfway to Toledo we heard on the radio that portions of I-75 and I-94 were closed due to freezing rain. Someone had died in an accident. My wife had a flight to catch. We never did encounter really slick roads, but we soon came upon a massive traffic jam that left Colleen fearing that she would never make her flight.

Our other daughter, Maddie, was visiting her sister during college spring break. I don’t think her vacation plans included being part of the delivery room crew, but there she was when the action began.

While Colleen and I were stuck in traffic, Maddie sent a running account via text messages.

“The animal bellowing has begun.”

“She’s on her knees.”

“Now she’s on her side.”

I’m thinking that Maddie probably didn’t know what she was getting herself into at this point. She made plans to visit Little Rock expecting to see a baby that was already born.

“I’m hiding in the corner.”

We were back up to about 45 m.p.h. when we received the message, “It’s a girl!”

I related this story to Mike MacLaren of the Michigan Press Association when he was pestering me about something last week. He knows me as the publisher who was once hung in effigy and he also brings up the standing joke about my need for column material. 

He called about some work needed on the annual newspaper contest (I’m the committee chair) and he suggested I could use that for a column.

He did come through with some material. He told me that he was attending a hearing in the capitol in Lansing one day when a colleague walked in and said loudly, “Mike MacLaren, your wife is in labor.”

That was his second child. For his first one, he lived in one of the Carolinas when Hurricane Hugo was approaching. Mike’s wife claims the drop in air pressure causes women to go into labor. The hospital was so crowded that the MacLarens were temporarily lodged in a broom closet.

I’ve been thinking about that story and I finally consulted Mr. Google this morning. I found several references to birth rates nine months after a hurricane. I learned that dolphin births have increased since Hurricane Katrina.

I learned that hurricane births are riskier due to distress. I found a statement by Wayne Griffin, associate director of the Counseling Center at the University of Florida, who said the surge in hurricane births is due to a basic and predictable human instinct.

What about women flying in airplanes or driving across mountain passes? someone asks. Someone else writes about the force of 200 Newtons and what effect that might have. 

I’m not convinced about the air pressure theory, Mike, but just to keep the discussion going I’ll point out that my granddaughter Caroline was born on the new moon, and you know there are always more births on the new moon.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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